Hurricane Sally: Deadly storm leaves 550,000 without power in US

(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) – Tropical Storm Sally has left more than half a million Americans without power as its torrential rains and storm surges lashed the US Gulf coast.

Sally weakened after it made landfall as a Category 2 hurricane on Wednesday, but the slow-moving storm continues to batter Florida and Alabama.

One person was killed and hundreds were rescued from flooded areas.

Pensacola, in Florida, was badly hit, with a loose barge bringing down part of the Bay Bridge.

“Catastrophic and life-threatening flooding continues over portions of the Florida Panhandle and southern Alabama,” the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.

The storm has brought “four months of rain in four hours” to the city, Pensacola fire chief Ginny Cranor told CNN.

One person died and another was missing in the town of Orange Beach, Alabama, the mayor said without giving further details.

Sally made landfall at Gulf Shores, Alabama, at 04:45 local time on Wednesday, with maximum wind speeds of 105mph (169 km/h).

According to the NHC, Category 2 hurricanes have sustained winds of 96 to 110 mph. The NHC says a Category 2 storm’s “extremely dangerous winds” usually cause damage to homes and shallowly rooted trees.

The storm later become a tropical depression with winds decreasing to 35mph, but it has been the torrents of rainfall and high storm surges that have caused most damage.

As the storm moved north from the coast, some 550,000 residents in affected areas were left in the dark on Wednesday night, according to local reports.

Sally is one of several storms in the Atlantic Ocean, with officials running out of letters to name the hurricanes as they near the end of their annual alphabetic list.

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